Sophie, the avant-pop artist who produced singers like Madonna and Charli XCX and released the acclaimed 2018 album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, has died at the age of 34.
The Scottish-born musician’s record label, Transgressive, confirmed Sophie’s death. “Tragically our beautiful Sophie passed away this morning after a terrible accident,” the label wrote. “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell. She will always be here with us. The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time.”
The musician’s management added to the Guardian that Sophie died following a “sudden accident” early Saturday morning in Athens, Greece. Sophie was “a pioneer of a new sound, one of the most influential artists in the last decade. Not only for ingenious production and creativity but also for the message and visibility that was achieved. An icon of liberation,” Sophie’s management said. “At this time respect and privacy for the family is our priority. We would also ask for respect for her fanbase, and to treat the private nature of this news with sensitivity.”
Chris of Christine and the Queens tweeted, “Sophie was a stellar producer, a visionary, a reference. She rebelled against the narrow, normative society by being an absolute triumph, both as an artist and as a woman. I can’t believe she is gone. We need to honor and respect her memory and legacy. Cherish the pioneers.”
Born and raised in Glasgow, Sophie began releasing music and performing as a DJ a decade ago, eventually becoming affiliated with innovative pop music collective PC Music. In 2013, Sophie began releasing music and gained significant notoriety a year later with the single “Lemonade”/“Hard.”
Sophie quickly became a go-to producer for pop stars looking to experiment in the genre, like Madonna who enlisted the visionary producer for her 2015 single “Bitch I’m Madonna.” Sophie’s most frequent partnership was with Charli XCX, first working with the star on the EP Vroom Vroom. Sophie and XCX have collaborated numerous times, including a few songs on the singers 2018 mixtapes Number 1 Angel and Pop 2.
Sophie has also worked with Vince Staples, Le1f, Mø, Cashmere Cat and Shygirl over the years, remixing songs by Fletcher, Brooke Candy and Yelle along the way.
“I think all pop music should be about who can make the loudest, brightest thing,” Sophie told Rolling Stone in 2015. “That, to me, is an interesting challenge, musically and artistically. And I think it’s a very valid challenge – just as valid as who can be the most raw emotionally. I don’t know why that is prioritized by a lot of people as something that’s more valuable. The challenge I’m interested in being part of is who can use current technology, current images and people, to make the brightest, most intense, engaging thing.”
Known to be intensely private, Sophie’s identity was shrouded in mystery for the first few years of her career. In 2017, Sophie used her voice and image for the first time on the single “It’s Okay to Cry” and came out as a trans woman in the months following.
“Transness is taking control to bring your body more in line with your soul and spirit so the two aren’t fighting against each other and struggling to survive … It means you’re not a mother or a father – you’re an individual who’s looking at the world and feeling the world,” Sophie told Paper magazine.
“It’s Okay to Cry” was the lead single off Sophie’s only album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides. The bubbling, avant-pop LP garnered significant acclaim as well as a nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
Sam Smith tweeted following Sophie’s death, “Heartbreaking news. The world has lost an angel. A true visionary and icon of our generation. Your light will continue to inspire so many for generations to come. Thinking of Sophie’s family and friends at this hard time.”
Peaches wrote, “I’m heartbroken. Thank you Sophie Rest In Power! You will always be remembered as a true game changer, powerful presence and an incredibly original producer ! Your music and production brought me so much joy!”
“The loss of sophie is huge. she’s been at the forefront for a long time and we see her influence in every corner of music. if you’re not aware of what she has done then today is the day to listen to all her brilliant work. you’ll hear an artist who arrived before everyone else,” Jack Antonoff tweeted Saturday.
“To me the genius of sophie was how she took this concept of bigger brighter harder shinier, a tool that so many have used cynically, and made it brilliant & challenging. she used something in a brand new way that was being misused for too long. she is a savior of pop for it.”